Earthquake update

Chinese Earthquake
Since my last post about earthquakes, there’s been another major earthquake, this time a 6.9 quake in China. It happened last Wednesday, and like the Haiti quake, there was a great deal of damage because it hit a relatively poor area without strong building codes. The mountainous region was also bitterly cold, and people were forced out of their homes in the middle of the night, with no protection from the elements. You can watch a news report about the quake at the BBC website.

Over 2000 people died, and China is holding a national day of mourning today.

There’s a comprehensive slideshow of images from the quake at

So what’s up with all the earthquakes? Well, not to worry–there are usually about 16 earthquakes each ear above magnitude seven, so we’re still within the normal range. It’s just that they’re being more reported in the news because they’ve hit populated areas and affected more people–and once the news media pick up on the pattern, it’s hard to stop noticing all the quakes. You can be sure they’ll report on all the major quakes in the near future! Read more about this at

Finally, if you have a new-model laptop with a built-in accelerometer (such as all Apple laptops made in the past few years), you can help detect the next earthquake. The software notices when your laptop vibrates. Now, your laptop moves around for a lot of reasons besides earthquakes, but if a lot of people install the software, researchers can notice when a whole region of laptops start vibrating all at once–that would mean: Earthquake! Listen to an NPR story about the software, or go here to download it.

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3 Responses to Earthquake update

  1. Harrison says:

    The accelerometer in computers is pretty neat but it says that only 1000 people have it. However, how does the software know that your laptop is vibrating? Is the a vibration detector in our computers?

  2. Peter L says:

    I can’t believe that we’re still in the normal range of earthquakes. It’s very sad that the earthquakes had to hit highly populated areas. I never knew that computers could detect earthquakes.

  3. Charles says:

    There have been so many earthquakes lately its quite tragic. I think the U.S. should help these poor countries and the victims who survived heal. If you were standing in a wide open plain with nothing around you and an earthquake occured would you just shake or could it kill you?

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